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Plus or Minus One Color


Ah Flourishing Fox!

Imagine they reprinted Quirion Dryad; but instead of costing 1g it cost only w; and more stuff in your deck triggered it (including some lands); and in case you're desperately in topdeck mode and a 1/1 can't save you, you can spend all of 1 mana OF ANY COLOR to roll the dice one more time.

It's not difficult to sympathize with the position of Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Allen Wu on this one; but in the parlance of another PT Top 8 competitor (and one who helped me earn my own first ever invite with this quote), "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."

I was a "rogue" as long as it was convenient, apparently.

Let's start at the very beginning (which is a very good place to start):

Takumi Utsunomiya helped put the cycling linear aggro deck on the map with his Top 8 finish at last month's Arena MagicFest.

How does Jeskai Cycling Work?

To begin with, this is a Jeskai deck - three colors. While you're not often casting-casting Frostveil Ambush, the deck does want to produce an Improbable Alliance; turn three if not turn two, so it's using the Blue.

I think Patrick Chapin said it best: Improbable Alliance is like a Bitterblossom... But instead of losing a life, you draw an extra card; and later in the game you just draw two or three more extra cards per turn cycle and make more 1/1 flyers! Bitterblossom ... Sorry, Improbable Alliance carries with it a steep cost, but a potentially archetype defining effect.


Improbable Alliance is kinda sorta only Plan B. It allows Jeskai Cycling to go wide. The aforementioned Flourishing Fox lets you go tall; very, very tall.

Look back at what Allen said about the card in his opening hand. Have you ever stared one down, when on the draw? Depending on the Companion you've already revealed; depending on the land you just played, you might be getting hit for three; might be getting hit for six the next turn! And the problem with the Fox? Jeskai Cycling gives up precious little in order to sprinkle the Miracle-Gro on their 1-drop. They typically can trade one mana for one card and one +1/+1 counter; almost every spell in the deck cycles, and even some of the lands!

One Weird Trick...

Footfall Crater

I thought it was super weird that this archetype played any copies of Footfall Crater -- setting aside its ability to discard and draw for a mere one mana - and "only" two copies of Boon of the Wish-Giver (which it might sometimes actually want to draw). The thing is, the ability to give a large Flourishing Fox trample (especially for so low a cost) might be just what you need to pull the opponent into Zenith Flare range.

Plus One Color

There is a LOT to unpack from Grand Prix Champion Abe Corrigan's recent Tweet.

This deck keeps a decent chunk of the Jeskai Cycling deck, but adds Green for four main deck cards and two more rando cyclers to the sideboard.

But the main deck cards are an archetype unto themselves:

Wilderness Reclamation

Like I said... There is a lot to unpack here.

This deck can still get the fast Fox draw, but it's clearly less consistent with only four Hallowed Fountains, one Temple Garden, and a single basic Plains for first turn action. And even if you do successfully summon the Fox... Getting it Flourishing is a rockier road than in the original archetype. Not only are there more lands (even if more of them cycle), there are fewer spell slots in the deck with cycling. Even those include newcomers like the uu Neutralize that costs 2 mana to cycle instead of just one.

So... Dreams of 3/3 followed by 6/6 are probably less vivid and more distant than elsewhere.

But what this deck does gain, is not only a whole new plan... But a whole new anti-plan.

With and Against Teferi, Time Raveler

One of the foils ever limiting the success of Wilderness Reclamation builds from the beginning has always been Teferi, Time Raveler. Teferi largely cancels Wilderness Reclamation... What's the use of all that extra mana if you can't use it to cast spells?

Now you can!

Float a ton, it's okay! You can cycle away on your end step, even if you're locked under Teferi, Time Raveler. And what's more, you can use your many manas to sculpt the perfect hand; you might not be able to cast a giant Expansion // Explosion during your own end step as you might like in a solitaire game; but it is a trivial matter with all that cycling to set up multiple lethal Zenith Flares to overwhelm the opponent's defenses later. Deploy them at your leisure.

On top of that, you can mostly just exploit Shark Typhoon as if Teferi had no intervening text. While you might not get the full flexibility of working at instant speed, vis a vis your end step or the opponent's... Most of the unique mischief of a Wilderness Reclamation strategy is to be attempted on your own turn anyway.

It goes without saying that this build is much more decision-intensive than the original Jeskai take. You have some of the same plans - creature aggro, if not creature "beatdown" necessarily - plus cycling to perfect your hand and get Zenith Flare in range...

But you also have essentially the full Wilderness Reclamation regalia, if not all the support from Growth Spiral and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath. This deck can literally set up the same big Expansion // Explosion game, and pull off exciting stuff with Wilderness Reclamation in general. If you thought that getting around Teferi (mostly, anyway) was cool... Imagine life without an opposing Teferi, Time Raveler in play!

One thing that you won't want to miss is that THIS deck also plays Teferi, Time Raveler!

When you side Teferi in, Boon of the Wish-Giver gains quite a bit of text. So here it's not about just cycling Boon of the Wish-Giver for one mana... You might actually want to exploit the abundant mana of your end step plus the ability to cast sorceries during, you know, your end step to set up something a bit bigger than aggro cycling can accomplish.

Now speaking of aggro cycling...

Minus One Color

This is the most exciting Standard deck to come out recently, at least to me. If for no other reason than it's mostly the cards any capable Magician has been drafting, anyway; and way less Wildcard intensive than Jeskai :)

In all seriousness, I think Boros gains a lot over Jeskai; starting with the most warping opener either deck is capable of.

Jeskai plays 11 sources of White that can be deployed untapped on the first turn; with two fewer lands, Boros has 14. Simple math: More lopsided Fox draws.

In terms of the rest of the main deck, Boros is nominally less likely to get flooded, and gets an almost comically gigantic six more 1 mana cyclers than the Jeskai original. The loss of Improbable Alliance is no minor concession; but Boros gets a lot in return, from color consistency to mid-game consistency.

We would be remiss to ignore how much stronger Jeskai's sideboard is; but the cycling focus is so strong and strategically warping, maybe you can get by without as much help from the further fifteen, sorry fourteen.

Not for nothing, but Jeskai Cycling's worst matchup a few weeks back was Jeskai Fires with Keruga, the Macrosage; anecdotally, DEEPFRYER tore through Keruga and two copies of Yorion to win last week's Standard challenge. Moreover there were five copies of essentially the same main deck (two colors, eighteen lands) among that tournament's top finishers.

If you'll excuse me, I think I have a bunch of unplayed sideboard chaff Light of Hope; but I might need to prioritize taking a few copies of Fight as One to finish putting this glorious aggro deck together this week.



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